A Slow Fire Burning by Paula Hawkins

Reviewed by Karen Lane, Need a Read

Zimbabwean-born, Paula Hawkins needs no introduction – her first book, The Girl on the Train was a global phenomenon selling 23 million copies in over 40 languages!  You may well have seen the movie that - although it was annoyingly and inexplicably set in Connecticut instead of London - was a number 1 box office hit starring Emily Blunt who was brilliant as the unreliable Rachel.   So I think you'll find that A Slow Fire Burning - Paula Hawkins’s third book - has everything you need in a thriller – twists and turns, toxic secrets, damaged people, revenge, a map of where everyone lives in and around Islington, a missing dog and the body of a young man stabbed to death on a houseboat.

It’s a compelling and compulsive read which focusses primarily on the three women who knew Daniel Sutherland.

  • Laura, petite, walks with a limp from a dreadful childhood accident the always-in-trouble-with-the-law disaster waiting to happen one-night stand who was the last person seen at his home.
  • Carla, his grief-stricken aunt who lost a baby and has been unable to pick up the pieces of her life and
  • Miriam the nosy neighbour who actually found the body.  She also had an unfortunate incident in her youth which left her reeling plus she has not been entirely honest with the police.


All three women are dealing with issues of resentment, betrayal and fury and have been for years.  There’s also the issue of power – shifting from the powerful and the powerless

Cleverly, the term “slow fire” refers to the process by which the paper in books becomes brittle over time as a result of acidification.  The acid comes from within the paper itself, so that the paper has the seeds of its own destruction within its very fibres!  As the author says in her introduction: “The characters in this book all have something within them that’s eating away at them – a need for revenge, for love, for closure – something that has been burning inside them for years and years”.  I thoroughly enjoyed it!


Available for purchase from Need a Read:
A Slow Fire Burning | Need a Read